New CBS drama series Blue Bloods has completed assembling its team following the recent departure of executive producer & showrnner Ken Sanzel. Two new producers have joined the show: helmer Fred Keller (Boomtown, 24, House) as producer & director and writer Linda Gase (Standoff, The District) as consulting producer. Keller’s deal came after he directed episode 3 of the cop/family drama starring Tom Selleck. His work on the episode, which coincided with Sanzel’s departure, got solid marks from the show’s executive producers: creators Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green and Leonard Goldberg. As for the show, “it is running really smoothly and is coming in even better,” an insider said. Keller is with Kaplan Stahler and Fineman Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE: I learned this morning that Tom Selleck hasn’t been accepting the scripts which CBS’ Blue Bloods executive producer Ken Sanzel has been giving him. So a standoff developed over character vs procedural visions for the series, summarized to me as “creative tension”. By midday, Sanzel was still staying with the show. No more. Insiders just emailed me that the former New York cop told the staff late today that he is leaving. There’s no exit date yet. “He’s a stand-up guy; he won’t leave the network or studio hanging,” a network source explains. “Simply creative differences. It happens. He was brought in after the pilot as a showrunner to set the show up. We often do this for pilots picked up to series that have great writers but who haven’t run shows before.” Now, to replace Sanzel, Selleck wants to find ”his guy” who must also meet with studio/network approval. Unfortunately this turmoil is especially embarrassing because it’s executive produced by Leonard Goldberg, a CBS Corporation board member.
Sanzel, a longtime Numb3rs showrunner, was handpicked by CBS and CBS Studios to executive produce with creators Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green, who continue with the show. ”Ken is a real take-charge tough guy and everyone knows it. They begged him to take the show. He was reluctant to do it. And Selleck was not crazy to have Ken imposed on hm. But Ken was doing the network bidding thanklessly,” an insider tells me. Sanzel’s vision was for a compelling crime procedural, whereas Selleck wanted softer character exploration. Sanzel knew the network was behind him. But Selleck wanted to be in charge of the show. “Too many cooks,” one of my insiders explains. “They love him at CBS. But Selleck realized it’s not the show he thought he was in. Ken calls Nina Tassler and says, ‘What do you want to do?’ And she says, ‘Let me talk to Tom.’” Today, it became clear to me it was just a matter of hours before Sanzel left the show. ”Not bail on them in one day. Just saunter off peacefully,” a source tells me. “If we were to count up every single show where there’s creative friction between actors and producers, we’d have a number like the census bureau.”
At the panel for CBS’ new cop/family drama Blue Bloods, the show’s writers-executive producers Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess were asked about departing the anti-hero drama genre they mastered on HBO’s The Sopranos to take on the CBS series starring Tom Selleck.
“We did the anti-hero for all those years, it was wonderful, it’s an old tradition…but every great character you see on TV right now is dark, they have a problem, we were very interested, as a curative after the Sopranos, to find out what a hero is,“ said Green. Added Burgess: “We were very conscious that we wanted to rediscover the hero, and write that, we did the other thing and now we want to do this. “